There’s just 12 days left until we usher in 2016 and mark the end of the “silly season” in the race for the White House.
That’s when the presidential election enters phase two.
Primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will start cramming even harder about the candidate they want to support and the outcomes in those states could determine much before Election Day next November.
Here are what some of the top presidential contenders want for the holidays that could bring them success at the polls:
Hillary Clinton … wants to run against Donald Trump. While the former Secretary of State’s operatives and allies are reportedly prepping to face a slew of potential rivals in the general election, the former reality TV star is the one she really wants.
A contest against Trump, with his penchant for making controversial statements on race, gender and income (to name a few) would give Clinton the best chance to contrast the difference between Democrats and Republicans to crucial Independent voters. She might even manage to get votes from the “traditional” wing of the GOP that right now is mortified at the thought Trump being the nominee.
Ben Carson … wants to revise his autobiography. Once running neck-and-neck with Trump, the retired neurosurgeon has seen his support crater in recent weeks.
The deadly ISIS attacks last month in Paris exposed Carson’s lack of foreign policy experience but his troubles began before that when the real estate mogul and others began to pick apart his inspirational personal story, scrutinizing claims about being offered a scholarship to West Point and multiple episodes of childhood violence, among others. Each chipped away at Carson’s candidacy and he hasn’t recovered.
Jeb Bush … wants to change his last name. Jones, Smith, Young, really, any last name would do for the former Florida governor who announced his candidacy like he was already the frontrunner and quickly raised $120 million to win the nomination.
Then Donald Trump entered the 2016 race. Bush has spent the last five months trying to find some way to regain even a sliver of the mojo he once had and reassure his donors. There was a glimmer of hope in last week’s GOP debate when he finally stood up to Trump, but one exchange captured how far Bush has fallen.
“You're never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency,” Bush said.
“I'm at 42 [percent], and you're at three. So far I'm doing better,” Trump scoffed.
Martin O’Malley … wants a shred of respect. The former Maryland governor has campaigned his brains out for the Democratic nomination and has virtually nothing to show for it.
He’s tried to break out by releasing policy positions ahead of his rivals and delivering forceful performances at the presidential debates, but his support remains stuck in the single digits, including an ABC/Washington Post poll released Friday that showed him trailing Clinton by a whopping 54 percent among his fellow Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents.
Rand Paul … wants to find graceful way drop out of the race. A year ago Democrats feared the Kentucky lawmaker’s entry into the 2016 presidential contest. Turns out they had nothing to worry about.
Paul’s bid has been a life support for months, in part because he doesn’t seem to want to be president very much. He successfully changed the Kentucky GOP’s rules so he could stand for reelection to the Senate at the same time and has gone out of his way at the Republican debates to take stances that go against the grain of his party.
There were rumblings Paul was going to drop out of the race if he had been relegated to the so-called “undercard” debate last week, but CNN announced two days before the event that he would get space on the main stage.
Lindsey Graham … wants one shot on the big stage. Aside from the initial kids’ table debate in August, where former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina stole the show and vaulted into the top-tier, Graham has owned every undercard debate since.
The South Carolina lawmaker has left audiences laughing and cheering with folksy, blunt takes on immigration, Obamacare, the minimum wage and other issues. Graham, the only military veteran running, is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and has centered his candidacy on national security, which has become the top issue for voters following the attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, California.
His call for 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and another 10,000 in Syria to fight ISIS, if made in primetime, would force his fellow rival to get more specific about how they would destroy the terror group, rather than offer up the vague platitudes that have been offered thus far.Bernie Sanders … wants a time machine (for Hanukkah). The self-described Democratic Socialist rocketed from dark horse candidate to possible frontrunner last summer as Clinton struggled to quell the controversy over her use of a private email server while in office.
Multiple polls in the early-voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa showed the Vermont lawmaker besting Clinton. The momentum “stunned” Sanders who admitted he could start imagining himself in the Oval Office.
But any gains he made were quickly erased when Vice President Biden announced he wouldn’t run, shoring up Clinton’s base of support, and the former top diplomat withstood an 11-hour grilling before the House Select Committee on Benghazi where GOP lawmakers failed to make her stumble.
The ABC/Washington Post poll found Clinton beating Sanders 59 percent to 28 percent and that was before his campaign became embroiled in a fight with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over access to the party’s voter database. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager has threatened to sue the DNC for locking his camp out of the catalog, saying the party has “stolen our data.”
Ted Cruz … wants Ben Carson to drop out. No one has benefitted from Carson’s drop in the polls more than Cruz, who some polls show now leads in the crucial state of Iowa.
The Texas lawmaker has barnstormed across the South in preparation for the so-called “SEC primary” on March 1 where Republicans from nearly a dozen southern states go to the polls. The surging Cruz has touted his record as a fighter against congressional GOP leadership and the Obama administration and assiduously avoided chiding Trump -- except for closed door comments at a recent New York fundraiser where he questioned whether novices like Trump or Carson had the right foreign policy judgment.
The only rival Cruz has actively gone after is Marco Rubio, his fellow senator from Florida. As he’s done with Republican leaders since joining the Senate in 2013, Cruz could use Rubio as an “establishment” foil on the hot-button topics of immigration and government surveillance.Marco Rubio … wants Cruz to take an extended vacation. If you look past the spectacle that is Donald Trump vs. Everyone Else, you will see the other big fight for the GOP nomination is Rubio vs. Cruz.
Rubio has used strong debate performances to bring himself near the top of the Republican heap but in the last debate he was forced to spar regularly with Cruz, especially on immigration. Rubio seemed to get the better of the exchanges, though, and has not taken his foot off gas since, attacking Cruz’s record at campaign stops throughout Iowa, hoping to knock down his support before the February 1 caucuses.
Donald Trump … What do you get the man who has everything? Well, we reached out to the man himself for the answer. *The following is a parody*
“To be honest, I don’t really want anything. I’m the most giving person you’ll ever meet. Some might say I give too much, I wouldn’t say it, but they would and that’s okay with me. I give CNN through the roof ratings, I give my love to our wounded warriors, who I love, and give the best ideas on how to make American great again. You don’t hear that from the other guys. I’m like the Santa Claus of good ideas. Like the wall with Mexico. That’s a good idea. Mexico will pay for it and our country will be safer. Great, right?
“Christmas is my favorite time of year. I used to be in Christmas commercials for Macy’s, you know. They did incredible business because of me and now they’re in the toilet – all because they dropped my products. Whatever you do, don’t go to Macy’s. They’re horrible. They ought to bring back Gimbel’s. Remember Gimbel’s?
“Anyway, don’t worry about me. Worry about our country. We have a lot of serious problems, like with the Muslims. I have a great family, I’m up in the polls, every day there’s a new poll showing me winning and I’m incredibly great. I meet with people and they offer me money but I don’t want their money. I don’t want anything. Really.”